China has reportedly altered the endings of several Hollywood movies to give the authorities in the film the upper hand. In a recent incident, the ending of the recent animated comedy Minions: The Rise of Gru, internet users have stumbled on versions of the movie where the ending seems a bit off; in the original movie following the infamous Gru of Despicable Me fame through his teenage years as a supervillain, his mentor Wild Knuckles and he rides off into the sunset after the latter pretends to be dead to escape authorities. However, versions found on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo come with a bit of addition. These movies have an alternative ending where the authorities jail Wild Knuckles and Gru becomes a family man.
The movie replaced the climax scene with subtitled still images showing Wild Knuckles jailed for 20 years. Following this, he discovers a love of acting and sets up a theatrical troupe. Gru, on the other hand, returns home to his three daughters, his “biggest accomplishment”.
Earlier this year, an edited version of the cult classic Fight Club was floating around on the Internet. Originally, the movie ends with the Narrator (Edward Norton) and Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter), watching the surrounding buildings explode from the bombs Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) installed. However, in a version uploaded to the Chinese streaming site Tencent Video, the explosion scene was replaced with a post-climax scene stating the authorities had successfully evaded Tyler from destroying the world.
FIGHT CLUB’s ending for the Chinese release (on Tencent Video) was changed to this and now I’m waiting for someone to fanfic a sequel based on this censored ending. pic.twitter.com/zYB0bY3Dlp
— Courtney Howard (@Lulamaybelle) January 24, 2022
Another Hollywood flick, the Nicholas Cage-starrer Lord of War, also received a different ending; in the film, Cage’s character, an arms dealer, escapes jail and returns to trafficking arms. The movie also states that the USA and China, among the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, were the most significant arms suppliers. But in the 30 minutes shorter Chinese version shows Cage’s character confessing all his crimes officially in court. Following this, the authorities sentence him to life imprisonment.
In the 🇨🇳 version of Lord of War, which is about 30 minutes shorter than the original, replaces the ending with a new caption, saying the arms dealer “confessed all the crimes officially charged against him in court, and was sentenced to life imprisonment.” #ChinaEditChallenge https://t.co/UdUUQRMv1P pic.twitter.com/sfXlcRL0bq
— 番 🐈⬛ (@1fanboh) January 26, 2022
A new trend on Twitter called #ChinaEditChallenge arose shortly, with even Edward Snowden participating in it.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 25, 2022
China has had a history of censoring movies. Hollywood even cut out movie scenes to appease the Chinese officials to retain a global audience. Hollywood has a longstanding practice of cutting parts that don’t conform to the Communist Party’s ideals. However, with China’s massive viewership base, American studios face compulsion to customize their movies accordingly. In a Heritage Explains session, late-night show Stephen Colbert says, ‘the Chinese government only allows a small number of foreign movies into China each year, and after America, China is the number two biggest movie-going country in the world. So, it’s only natural for American movie makers to try to please the cultural gatekeepers of the Chinese government. They’ve been doing it for years’. He gives several examples of how the Chinese government saved the day in movies like 2012, Gravity and The Blindside.